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The Malazan Book of the Fallen
Steven Erikson
Bantam UK / Tor
Volume 1 Gardens of the Moon (1999), 523 pages
Volume 2 Deadhouse Gates (2000), 684 pages
Volume 3 Memories of Ice (2001), 898 pages
Volume 4 House of Chains (2002), 762 pages
Volume 5 Midnight Tides (2004), 698 pages
Volume 6 The Bonehunters (2006), 891 pages
Volume 7 Reapers Gale (2007), 832 pages
Volume 8 Toll the Hounds (2008), 920 pages
Volume 9 Dust of Dreams (2009), 1272 pages
Volume 10 The Crippled God (2011), 923 pages

The Malazan Book of the Fallen (UK covers) The Malazan Book of the Fallen (US covers)
Steven Erikson
Steven Erikson was born in Toronto, grew up in Winnipeg, and worked in the UK for several years until returning to Canada several years ago. He now lives in Falmouth in Cornwall UK with his family. He is an anthropologist and archaeologist by training, as well as being a graduate of the Iowa Writer's Workshop. Gardens of the Moon (1999), his first fantasy novel, was nominated for a World Fantasy Award.

Steven Erikson Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Dust of Dreams
SF Site Review: Reaper's Gale
SF Site Review: The Bonehunters
SF Site Review: Midnight Tides
SF Site Review: The Healthy Dead
SF Site Review: House of Chains
SF Site Review: Blood Follows
SF Site Review: Memories of Ice
SF Site Review: Deadhouse Gates
SF Site Interview: Steven Erikson
SF Site Review: Gardens of the Moon

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Dominic Cilli

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Steven Erikson's The Malazan Book of the Fallen has single-handedly raised the bar for fantasy literature. Its full impact upon the world of writing in general probably won't be felt for several years, but for fans of the genre and of the series, its impact is immediate and world changing. After I finished The Crippled God, I closed the book and reflected back upon what I had just read and realized that this series of books is surely the best fantasy series that has ever been written. In fact, I couldn't think of anything even close. However, I took it one step further and asked myself if this once obscure series genre writer from Canada has created the crown jewel of fiction? The answer is, arguably, yes and why not? If you don't believe me, read it and then you tell me the work that you believe surpasses it. I dare you.

After 30 years of reading across genres, I have not come across its equal and I have read just about every Pulitzer Prize winner, Nobel Prize winner and more so-called classics than I can count. Sadly, The Malazan Book of the Fallen won't ever win any awards outside the genre and won't ever have the kind of notoriety associated with the type of books I mentioned above, but I have a feeling awards and fame and fortune had nothing to do with why Steven Erikson wrote The Malazan Book of the Fallen. If he cared about those things, he would have made this series more accessible. Instead he has written a series of books that I would only recommend to most advanced readers out there. Even they will have to make two passes through all ten books to fully comprehend the myriad of plotlines, characters and various settings that Erikson presents to us. It is not my intention to scare readers off. If you decide to read The Malazan Book of the Fallen, make no mistake, you will probably be taking on the most challenging literary trial that you have ever tried in your life. But the payoff is too enormous to ignore and well worth taking on the endeavor. Steven Erikson doesn't spoon feed his readers. He forces you to question and think on a level that very few authors would even dare for fear of finding and perhaps losing an audience. Well... he found it and we're a select group.

My introduction to Steven Erikson came back in 2001. I had just finished George R.R. Martin's A Storm of Swords and I had sent an email to my review editor asking him for recommendations that were akin to Martin and he told me to check out an author named Steven Erikson. That was all I needed to hear and so began my journey through The Malazan Book of the Fallen. It is almost universally accepted among his fan base that the toughest book to make it through is the first, Gardens of the Moon. We are plunged right into the middle of the action at the aftermath of the Battle of Pale and left to fend for ourselves in a world that is utterly alien and completely original. Warrens, T'lan Imass, Tiste Andi, Elder Gods, Ascendants, the Deck of Dragons, Bridgeburners, it's enough to make your head spin. I won't lie, it's tough sledding. But you must continue to push through it for being a patient reader is a necessity when reading Erikson. Most fantasy authors may take a part of the first book or maybe the whole first book of the series to lay their foundation. In comparison, Steven Erikson takes about 4000 pages. Epic is a word often tossed around in the world of fantasy and science fiction, but Steven Erikson has redefined it. Fear not though patient reader, because after the difficult Gardens of the Moon, we get one of the strongest entries in the series, Deadhouse Gates. It isn't until Memories of Ice that we are reintroduced to some of the characters from Gardens of the Moon, and after that it is all downhill as you'll yearn to know everything there is to know about the world of the Malazan Empire.

I have included links to all of our individual reviews of each novel if you are interested in getting a detailed synopsis of each entry in the series, but if I were to attempt it here it would probably be about 500 pages long. Also, there are so many wonderful characters over the nearly 9,000 pages that to mention half of them would be akin to a novella. The world building is done on an unprecedented scale and Erikson has left a lifetime's worth of novels on the table in the world of the Malazan Empire. So what is left to talk about? It's simple, the writing. I can tell that Steven Erikson's writing is filled with wit, charm, philosophical brilliance and a sense of imagination that would humble the most creative of authors. You will be hard-pressed to find his equal in any genre.

The one aspect not talked about nearly enough concerning The Malazan Book of the Fallen is it is funny. Now, this series is by no means a comedy and yet Erikson's is a near master of dialogue and will keep you in stitches throughout the entire series, not an easy feat when you consider just how dark some places in these novels are. I will always remember the banter between Tehol and Bugg in Midnight Tides and the constant bickering of Stormy and Gessler or Telorast and Curdle throughout the series. The drunken ramblings of Sergeant Hellion as she chops her way through the countryside from pub to pub in Reaper's Gale or the ramblings of Kruppe of Darujihistan. Furthermore, life is always bittersweet and Erikson's writing is no different. After the laughter, there are always tears and his prose can really tug at your heart strings. Unfortunately, it does take a while to develop an emotional connection with Erikson's characters simply because there are so many of them. But once you have established that attachment, these characters will seem like old friends to you. The fate of Whiskeyjack and Karlot, the story of Icarium and Mappo, the stand of Coltaine, the eternal suffering of the T'lan Imass are just a few worthy of mention. The concluding novel, The Crippled God, was emotionally devastating. With that novel, Steven Erikson somehow manages to deftly converge dozens of storylines that have been drawn out over thousands of pages, so you will feel the words of The Crippled God reverberate within you for weeks after reading it.

The only real fault I can find in these novels may not be a fault at all. It just may be a product of my own limitations as a reader and,, ironically, I also feel it is one of the novels greatest strengths. I am speaking about the scope of the complexity, of course. There will probably be times when readers become occasionally lost in the sheer enormity and multiple layers of the story. I haven't spoken with too many people who have read this series only one time. It isn't necessary to read it twice to understand it, but to truly appreciate everything Steven Erikson has accomplished with The Malazan Book of the Fallen reading them a second time will fill in the gaps and allow readers to take everything in.

In conclusion, reading The Malazan Book of the Fallen is an experience. It will amaze you in more ways then I can predict. I can't put these novels in perspective because it has created its own perspective. The Malazan Book of the Fallen is the series to which all other significant fantasy series will be compared. It may not be my favorite series or even the most popular series in fantasy, but I can say, without a doubt, it is the most masterful piece of fiction I have ever read. It has single handedly changed everything we thought we knew about fantasy literature and redefined what is possible. Fantasy aficionados all know that it is quite possible that we may not ever see a work of this scope and magnitude again. It is the vision of a lifetime and Steven Erikson, with The Malazan Book of The Fallen, has ascended to the pinnacle of his genre and established himself as one of the most visionary authors living today. We can only hope that someday we will see its equal, but I am not holding my breath.

Copyright © 2011 Dominic Cilli

When asked to write a third-person tag line for his reviews, Dominic Cilli farmed the work out to an actual 3rd person, his friend Neal, who in turn turned it over to a second person who then asked his third cousin to help out and this person whom Dom doesn't even know then wrote in 8th person Omniscient mode "Dom's breadth of knowledge in literature runs the gamut and is certainly not bounded by the Sci-Fi/Fantasy genre. One thing I can say with certainty is that of all the people I don't know who've ever recommended books to read, Dom's recommendations are the best.


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